Nicodemus the Hagiorite: This greatest, most wondrous, and nearly infinitely-sized polyelaios of the entire universe Thursday, Jun 2 2016 

Nikodemos 1Polyelaios – the main chandelier in the Nave of the Church [translator’s note].

I am not able, here, to pass over in silence the beautiful and fitting analogy put forth by some concerning the renewal of the whole of creation.

They compare it to a wise artist who is fabricating a great, wondrous, and costly polyelaios  and who does not finish it in one sitting, but rather works on it for a great deal of time, now working on one small section of the polyelaios, now on another; and sometimes he fashions the middle bars of the polyelaios, and sometimes its oil lamps, sometimes its bulb, and sometimes he works on the parts that will hold the candles.

Once he has finished the entire polyelaios and all of the small and large parts it comprises, then he exhibts this wondrous polyelaios in the center of the market, with all of its numerous parts connected; and, seeing that it was made according to his design, beautifully and most skilfully, he rejoices greatly and is glad.

But all of the people, also, seeing it shining most brightly and fitted together with most wondrous skill, are enraptured and praise the artist who has fashioned it, calling out: “Well done! Well done!”

In the same way, God, the all-wise master craftsman and architect, in his desire to fabricate this greatest, most wondrous, and nearly infinitely-sized polyelaios of the entire universe, did not complete it at once, because the parts making up this great polyelaios are not only inanimate and irrational, but also rational and possessors of free will. For this reason, He has been working on these parts of the world for 7,311 years now, and we do not yet know how many more years He will work on it until the end of time.

Now He fashions and finishes one part of the polyelaios, now another; that is, now He seizes one soul that has been kept pure by the practicing of the commandments, and now He seizes another that has been justified through repentance; and another He saves through His promises, while another by His threats; this person He delivers from sin through trial and chastisement, and that one He frees from the Devil by His Grace, until He has assembled all of the small and great parts of which this most wondrous Polyelaios of the world is to be comprised.

When these things have been completed and the heavens, the luminaries, the stars, the elements, the earth, and the bodies of the righteous have been renewed through the regeneration and resurrection, and through alteration and amendment, then God, the master craftsman, will fabricate His great polyelaios and equip it with all of its most exquisitely beautiful, resplendent, and most wondrous parts.

Nicodemus the Hagiorite (1749-1809): The Greatest and Most Wondrous Polyelaios in the Entire Universe and the Renewal of the Whole of Creation (Commentary by St. Nicodemos on II St. Peter 3:13) @ Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece.

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Gregory Nazianzen: “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do” Tuesday, Jan 26 2016 

St.-Gregory-Nazianzen“The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do” (John 5:19).

“All things that the Father hath are the Son’s” (John 16:15), and on the other hand, all that belongs to the Son is the Father’s.

Nothing then is peculiar, because all things are in common.  For Their Being itself is common and equal, even though the Son receive it from the Father.

It is in respect of this that it is said “I live by the Father” (John 6:57); not as though His Life and Being were kept together by the Father, but because He has His Being from Him beyond all time, and beyond all cause.

But how does He see the Father doing, and do likewise?

Is it like those who copy pictures and letters, because they cannot attain the truth unless by looking at the original, and being led by the hand by it?

But how shall Wisdom stand in need of a teacher, or be incapable of acting unless taught?

And in what sense does the Father “do” in the present or in the past?  Did He make another world before this one, or is He going to make a world to come?  And did the Son look at that and make this?  Or will He look at the other, and make one like it?

[…]  He cleanses lepers, and delivers men from evil spirits, and diseases, and quickens the dead, and walks upon the sea, and does all His other works. But in what case, or when did the Father do these acts before Him?

Is it not clear that the Father impressed the ideas of these same actions, and the Word brings them to pass, yet not in slavish or unskilful fashion, but with full knowledge and in a masterly way, or, to speak more properly, like the Father?

For in this sense I understand the words that whatsoever is done by the Father, these things doeth the Son likewise – not, that is, because of the likeness of the things done, but in respect of the authority.

This might well also be the meaning of the passage which says that the Father worketh hitherto and the Son also (John 5:17); and not only so but it refers also to the government and preservation of the things which He has made, as is shown by the passage which says that “He maketh His angels spirits” (Psalm 103. 4-5, LXX) and that “the earth is founded upon its steadfastness” (though once for all these things were fixed and made) and that the thunder is made firm and the wind created (cf. Amos 4:13).

Of all these things the Word was given once, but the action is continuous even now.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 30, 11 (slightly adapted).

Irenaeus of Lyons: So fair and good was this Paradise that the Word of God continually resorted thither Friday, Nov 13 2015 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonGod formed Man with His own hands, taking from the earth that which was purest and finest, and mingling in measure His own power with the earth.

For He traced His own form on the formation, that that which should be seen should be of divine form.

For as the image of God was man formed and set on the earth.

And that he might become living, He breathed on his face the breath of life; that both for the breath and for the formation man should be like unto God.

Moreover he was free and self-controlled, being made by God for this end, that he might rule all those things that were upon the earth.

And this great created world, prepared by God before the formation of man, was given to man as his place, containing all things within itself.

And there were in this place also with their tasks the servants of that God who formed all things; and the steward, who was set over all his fellow-servants received this place.

Now the servants were angels, and the steward was the archangel.

Now, having made man lord of the earth and all things in it, He secretly appointed him lord also of those who were servants in it.

They however were in their perfection; but the lord, that is, man, was but small; for he was a child; and it was necessary that he should grow, and so come to his perfection.

And, that he might have his nourishment and growth with festive and dainty meats, He prepared him a place better than this world, excelling in air, beauty, light, food, plants, fruit, water, and all other necessaries of life: and its name is Paradise.

And so fair and good was this Paradise, that the Word of God continually resorted thither, and walked and talked with the man, figuring beforehand the things that should be in the future, namely that He should dwell with him and talk with him, and should be with men, teaching them righteousness.

But man was a child, not yet having his understanding perfected; wherefore also he was easily led astray by the deceiver.

[…] And Adam and Eve – for that is the name of the woman – were naked, and were not ashamed; for there was in them an innocent and childlike mind, and it was not possible for them to conceive and understand anything of that which by wickedness through lusts and shameful desires is born in the soul.

For they were at that time entire, preserving their own nature; since they had the breath of life which was breathed on their creation. And, while this breath remains in its place and power, it has no comprehension and understanding of things that are base.

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 11, 12, 14.

Basil the Great: “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the Spirit of His mouth” Friday, Sep 18 2015 

St-Basil-the-Great[Following on from here….]

‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth’ (Psalm 32:6).

Where are those who set at naught the Spirit? Where are those who separate It from the creative power?

Where are those who dissever It from union with the Father and Son?

Let them hear the psalm which says: ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth’.

The term ‘Word’ will not be considered as this common form of diction which consists of names and expressions, nor will the Spirit be considered as vapor poured out in the air;

but as the Word, which was in the beginning with God (John 1:1), and as the Holy Spirit, which has obtained this appellation as Its own.

As, then, the Creator, the Word, firmly established the heavens, so the Spirit which is from God, which proceeds from the Father, that is, which is from His mouth (that you may not judge that It is some external object or some creature, but may glorify It as having Its substance from God) brings with It all the powers in Him.

Therefore, all the heavenly power was established by the Spirit; that is, it has from the assistance of the Spirit the solidity and firmness and constancy in holiness and in every virtue that is becoming to the sacred powers.

In this place, therefore, the Spirit was described as from His mouth; we shall find elsewhere that the Word also was said to be from His mouth, in order that it may be understood that the Savior and His Holy Spirit are from the Father.

Since, then, the Savior is the Word of the Lord, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit from His mouth, both joined with Him in the creation of the heavens and the powers in them, and for this reason the statement was made: ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth’.

For, nothing is made holy, except by the presence of the Spirit. The Word, the Master Craftsman and Creator of the universe, gave entrance into existence to the angels; the Holy Spirit added holiness to them.

The angels were not created infants, then perfected by gradual exercise and thus made worthy of the reception of the Spirit; but, in their initial formation and in the material, as it were, of their substance they had holiness laid as a foundation.

Wherefore, they are turned toward evil with difficulty, for they were immediately steeled by sanctity, as by some tempering, and possessed steadfastness in virtue by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Basil the Great (330-379): Homily 15 (on Psalm 32[33]), 4,  from Saint Basil: Exegetic Homilies, translated by Agnes Clare Way, Catholic University of America Press (The Fathers of the Church, vol. 46), pp. 234-235.

Athanasius of Alexandria: The renewal of creation has been the work of the self-same Word that made it at the beginning Tuesday, Jul 21 2015 

AthanasiusIn what precedes we have drawn out…a sufficient account of the error of the heathen concerning idols,

—and of the worship of idols, and how they originally came to be invented;

—how, namely, out of wickedness men devised for themselves the worshipping of idols.

And we have by God’s grace noted also of the divinity of the Word of the Father,

—and of His universal Providence and power,

—and that the Good Father through Him orders all things,

—and all things are moved by Him, and in Him are quickened.

Come now, true lover of Christ, let us follow up the faith of our religion (τῆς εὐσεβείας – cf. 1 Tim. 3:16), and set forth also what relates to the Word’s becoming Man, and to His divine appearing amongst us…in order that, all the more for the seeming low estate of the Word, your piety toward Him may be increased and multiplied.

For the more He is mocked among the unbelieving, the more witness does He give of His own Godhead. He not only Himself demonstrates as possible what men mistake, thinking impossible, but what men deride as unseemly, this by His own goodness He clothes with seemliness.

And what men, in their conceit of wisdom, laugh at as merely human, He by His own power demonstrates to be divine, subduing the pretensions of idols by His supposed humiliation—by the Cross—and invisibly winning over to recognise His divinity and power those who mock and disbelieve.

But to treat this subject it is necessary to recall what has been previously said, in order that you may neither fail to know the cause of the bodily appearing of the Word of the Father, so high and so great, nor think it a consequence of His own nature that the Saviour has worn a body.

Rather, being incorporeal by nature, and being Word from the beginning, He has yet of the loving-kindness and goodness of His own Father been manifested to us in a human body for our salvation.

It is, then, proper for us to begin the treatment of this subject by speaking of the creation of the universe, and of God its Artificer, that so it may be duly perceived that the renewal of creation has been the work of the self-same Word that made it at the beginning.

For it will appear not inconsonant for the Father to have wrought its salvation in Him by Whose means He made it.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 1 (slightly adapted).

Gregory of Nyssa: “God created man, in the image of God created He him” Friday, Jul 3 2015 

Gregory_of_NyssaThe creation of our nature is in a sense twofold: one made like to God, one divided according to this distinction.

For something like this Scripture darkly conveys by its arrangement, where it first says:

“God created man, in the image of God created He him” (Gen.1:27);

and then, adding to what has been said, “male and female created He them”—a thing which is alien from our conceptions of God.

[…] While two natures—the Divine and incorporeal nature, and the irrational life of brutes—are separated from each other as extremes, human nature is the mean between them.

For in the compound nature of man we may behold a part of each of the natures I have mentioned—

—of the Divine, the rational and intelligent element, which does not admit the distinction of male and female;

—of the irrational, our bodily form and structure, divided into male and female.

For each of these elements is certainly to be found in all that partakes of human life.

[…] God is in His own nature all that which our mind can conceive of good—rather, transcending all good that we can conceive or comprehend.

He creates man for no other reason than that He is good.

And, being such, and having this as His reason for entering upon the creation of our nature, He would not exhibit the power of His goodness in an imperfect form, giving our nature some one of the things at His disposal, and grudging it a share in another.

The perfect form of goodness is here to be seen by His both bringing man into being from nothing, and fully supplying him with all good gifts.

Since the list of individual good gifts is a long one, it is out of the question to apprehend it numerically.

The language of Scripture therefore expresses it concisely by a comprehensive phrase, in saying that man was made “in the image of God”.

This is the same as to say that He made human nature participant in all good.

For if the Deity is the fulness of good, and this is His image, then the image finds its resemblance to the Archetype in being filled with all good.

Thus there is in us the principle of all excellence, all virtue and wisdom, and every higher thing that we conceive.

But pre-eminent among all is the fact that we are free from necessity, and not in bondage to any natural power, but have decision in our own power as we please.

For virtue is a voluntary thing, subject to no dominion. That which is the result of compulsion and force cannot be virtue.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): On the Making of Man, 16, 8-11 (slightly adapted).

Hilary of Poitiers: “One God the Father, from Whom are all things, and one Jesus Christ, our Lord, through Whom are all things” Monday, Jun 8 2015 

St_Hilary_of_Poitiers_cassienSince, therefore, the words of the Apostle, One God the Father, from Whom are all things, and one Jesus Christ, our Lord, through Whom are all things (1 Cor. 8:6), form an accurate and complete confession concerning God, let us see what Moses has to say of the beginning of the world.

His words are, And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water, and let it divide the water from the water. And it was so, and God made the firmament and God divided the water through the midst (Gen. 1:6,7).

Here, then, you have the God from Whom, and the God through Whom.

If you deny it, you must tell us through whom it was that God’s work in creation was done, or else point for your explanation to an obedience in things yet uncreated, which, when God said Let there be a firmament, impelled the firmament to establish itself.

Such suggestions are inconsistent with the clear sense of Scripture. For all things, as the Prophet says (2 Macc. 7:28), were made out of nothing; it was no transformation of existing things, but the creation into a perfect form of the non-existent.

Through whom? Hear the Evangelist: All things were made through Him. If you ask Who this is, the same Evangelist will tell you: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him (John 1:1-3).

If you are minded to combat the view that it was the Father Who said, Let there be a firmament, the prophet will answer you: He spake, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created (Psalm 148:5). The recorded words, Let there be a firmament, reveal to us that the Father spoke.

But in the words which follow, And it was so, in the statement that God did this thing, we must recognise the Person of the Agent. He spake, and they were made; the Scripture does not say that He willed it, and did it. He commanded, and they were created; you observe that it does not say they came into existence because it was His pleasure.

In that case there would be no office for a Mediator between God and the world which was awaiting its creation. God, from Whom are all things, gives the order for creation which God, through Whom are all things, executes. Under one and the same Name we confess Him Who gave and Him Who fulfilled the command.

Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368): On the Trinity, 4, 16.

Isaac the Syrian: Let us consider then how rich in its wealth is the ocean of His creative act Monday, May 11 2015 

Isaac the Syrian 3Let us consider then how rich in its wealth is the ocean of His creative act, and how many created things belong to God, and how in His compassion He carries everything, acting providentially as He guides creation;

and how with a love that cannot be measured He arrived at the establishment of the world and the beginning of creation; and how compassionate God is, and how patient;

and how He loves creation, and how He carries it, gently enduring its importunity, the various sins and wickednesses, the terrible blasphemies of demons and evil men.

Then, once someone has stood amazed, and filled his intellect with the majesty of God, amazed at all these things He has done and is doing, then he wonders in astonishment at His mercifulness,

how, after all these things, God has prepared for them another world that has no end, whose glory is not even revealed to the angels, even though they are involved in His activities insofar as is possible in the life of the spirit, in accordance with the gift with which their nature has been endowed.

That person wonders too at how excelling is that glory, and how exalted is the manner of existence at that time; and how insignificant is the present life compared to what is reserved for creation in the New Life;

and how, in order that the soul’s life will not be deprived of that blessed state because of misusing the freewill it has received, He has devised in His mercifulness a second gift, which is repentance, so that by it the soul’s life might acquire renewal every day and thereby every time be put aright (II.10.19).

[…] What profundity of richness, what mind and exalted wisdom is God’s! What compassionate kindness and abundant goodness belongs to the Creator! With what purpose and with what love did He create this world and bring it into existence!

What a mystery does the coming into being of this creation look towards! To what a state is our common nature invited! What love served to initiate the creation of the world!

This same love which initiated the act of creation prepared beforehand by another dispensation the things appropriate to adorn the world’s majesty which sprung forth as a result of the might of His love.

In love did He bring the world into existence; in love does He guide it during this its temporal existence; in love is He going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of Him who has performed all these things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised (II.38.1-2).

Isaac the Syrian (c. 630-c. 700): in Sebastian Brock: Isaac of Nineveh (Isaac the Syrian): The Second Part, Chapters 4-41 (Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium), quoted in this reflection (highly recommended) by Fr Aidan Kimel – part of a series on St Isaac on Eclectic Orthodoxy (also highly recommended).

John Paul II: “Heaven is Wedded to Earth and Man is Reconciled to God!” Monday, Apr 21 2014 

jp2“God said: ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Gen 1:3).

An explosion of light, which God’s word brought forth from nothing, rent asunder the first night, the night of Creation.

The Apostle John will write: “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 Jn 1:5). God did not create darkness but light!

And the Book of Wisdom, clearly revealing that God’s work has always had a positive purpose, puts it thus:

“He created all things that they might exist; and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them; and the dominion of Hades is not on earth” (Wis 1:14).

In that first night, the night of Creation, is rooted the Paschal Mystery which, following the tragedy of sin, represents the restoration and the crowning of that first beginning.

The divine Word called into existence all things and, in Jesus, became flesh for our salvation.

And if the destiny of the first Adam was to return to the earth from which he had been made (cf. Gen 3:19), the last Adam has come down from heaven in order to return there in victory, the first-fruits of the new humanity (cf. Jn 3:13; 1 Cor 15:47).

Another night constitutes the fundamental event of the history of Israel: it is the wondrous Exodus from Egypt, the story of which is read each year at the solemn Easter Vigil.

[…] This is the second night, the night of the Exodus.

[…] In his Passover, as the new Moses, Christ has made us pass from the slavery of sin to the freedom of the children of God. Having died with Jesus, with him we rise to new life, thanks to the power of his Spirit. His Baptism has become our baptism.

[…]  This is the third night, the night of the Resurrection.

“Most blessed of all nights, chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!”. We sang these words in the Easter Proclamation at the beginning of this solemn Vigil, the Mother of all Vigils.

After the tragic night of Good Friday, when “the power of darkness” (Lk 22:53) seemed to have prevailed over the One who is “the light of the world” (Jn 8:12),

after the great silence of Holy Saturday, in which Christ, having completed his work on earth, found rest in the mystery of the Father and took his message of life into the pit of death,

behold at last the night which precedes “the third day”, on which, in accordance with the Scriptures, the Messiah would rise, as he himself had often foretold to his disciples.

“Night truly blessed, when heaven is wedded to earth and man is reconciled to God!” (Easter Proclamation).

John Paul II (1920-2005): Homily at the Easter Vigil, March 30th, 2002.

 

Isaac the Syrian: The burning of the heart unto the whole creation Friday, Apr 11 2014 

Isaac the Syrian 3What is repentance? To desist from former sins and to suffer on account of them.

And what is the sum of purity? A heart full of mercy unto the whole created nature.

And what is perfection? Depth of humility, namely giving up all visible and invisible things….

Another time the same father was asked: What is repentance? He answered: A broken heart.

And what is humility? He replied: Embracing a voluntary mortification regarding all things.

And what is a merciful heart? He replied:

The burning of the heart unto the whole creation, man, fowls and beasts, demons and whatever exists so that by the recollection and the sight of them the eyes shed tears on account of the force of mercy which moves the heart by great compassion.

Then the heart becomes weak, and it is not able to bear hearing or examining injury or any insignificant suffering of anything in the creation.

And therefore even in behalf of the irrational beings and the enemies of truth and even in behalf of those who do harm to it, at all times he offers prayers with tears that they may be guarded and strengthened; even in behalf of the kinds of reptiles, on account of his great compassion which is poured out in his heart without measure, after the example of God.

[…] The sum of all is God, the Lord of all, who from love of His creatures, has delivered His Son to death on the cross. For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son for it.

Not that He was not able to save us in another way, but in this way it was possible to show us His abundant love abundantly, namely by bringing us near to Him by the death of His son.

If He had anything more clear to Him, He would have given it us, in order that by it our race might be His.

And out of His great love He did not even choose to urge our freedom by compulsion, though He was able to do so. But His aim was, that we should come near to Him by the love of our mind.

And our Lord obeyed His Father out of love unto us, taking upon Him scorn and suffering joyfully, as Scripture says: “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.”

Therefore our Lord said in the night in which He was betrayed: “This is my body which is given for the salvation of the world unto life. And this is my blood which is shed for all for the remission of sins. In behalf of them I offer myself.”

Isaac the Syrian (c. 630-c. 700): Mystic Treatises, 74, in Mystical Treatises of Isaac of Nineveh, trans. A.J. Wensinck).

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